T Nation

Deltoid and Shoulder Development


Overall shoulder development is my goal ? currently I am doing standing overhead db presses in regards to direct delt work. Other than that, your usual DL/bench and other compound movements have taken care of it.

In doing so, I?ve managed ok with, but feel that I am lacking lateral and posterior size. I?ve tried using isolation anterior delt development movements like front/lateral raise and found it ineffective, not being able to move enough weights?

What do you guys do in terms of shoulder development, specifically for lateral and posterior deltoids?


Most people have deltoids that are composed mainly of Type I (slow twitch) muscle fiber. Try using lighter weights with higher reps. Make sure your movements are very strict. Cable lateral/bent-over cable laterals are my favorites.


Read some more articles on here about shoulders....i agree with Cressey and many others that separate training for shoulders is useless and contributes to overuse injuries.


Try snatches


The push-press is a tremendous anterior/lateral shoulder developer, and the bent-row has given me some prety big posterior deltoids.


I love doing push-press too; but again i feel it mostly hits my anterior... anyway, i will continue to them b/c i love doing them. thanks


Posterior Delts: Overhand DB Rows and cable rows to the face

One good shoulder builder I saw CT use is the Bradford Press. Performed with a BB, start with the bar like front squat, standing. Press over head and bring bar behind head and press again to get back to front squat positioning. That's one rep. You don't need to lock it out but rather just get the bar over your head.

Works for me...


OOHH.. that's an idea.. how do you feel about uni db snatch like decribed in "Perfect Snatch" article?


do you use rope for cable rows to face? what about overhand db rows - is this to face as well? will def try bradford press - thanks Tank!


My suggegtions, work the deltoids from the rear, where you are possibly weak, to the front, where you are obviously stronger due to bench and overhead pressing.

Exercise #1 Kettlebell Foward Swings to Stabilization, explosive strength.
3 sets x 3-6 repetitions, 90 sec. rest

Superset#1 Seated Straight Bar Row, pull bar to the bottom of the sternum, with Bent-Over Dumbbell Posterior Delt raise, palms pronated.
2-3 sets x 9-12 rpeptitions, 2 min. rest

Superset #2 Satnding Rope Upright Row, elbows come just below the shoulder joint, with Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raises, arms in the scapular plane.
2-3 sets x 9-12 repetitions, 2 min. rest

Fininsh workout with Standing Cable External Rotations with arm abducted approximatley 30 degrees.
2-3 sets x 9-12 repetitions, 1 min. rest


I think the volume issue is relative to the fact that most people have a high volume of work for anterior delts in the quest for the "big bench". You could always lower your volume of horizontal plane pressing and increase the volume of vertical plane work.

DB presses are great but the overall load is limited because of the fact that DBs are being used. Behind the neck BB presses are great as long as you have the flexibility to do them through a full range of motion (to the base of your neck).

A good exercise for the medial head is wide grip upright rows. Use a wider than shoulder width grip and raise the bar to your sternum, leading with your elbows. Done correctly, it will bring your shoulder through a plane of motion similar to lateral raises, but you will be able to use a much heavier load.

I also tend to through in some (very)light internal/external rotator work. Most people neglect this in their training and tend to have stronger internal rotators. The rotator work can be done on off days or at the end of workouts and will help increase joint stability- very important to the shoulder joint once one gets to using heavy loads- and ultimately a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle.

Just my two cents.


Forgot to mention the rear delts:

Reverse DB or machine flyes and cable rope pull to the neck. All have worked well for me.


Just work them.. If you are like me they are lagging behind alittle. All we need to do is work them a little harder..Good Luck!


thanks for your suggestions. couple of questions for you:
"Kettlebell Foward Swings to Stabilization" - stablize perpendicular to floor, or do you think thats too high?

"Superset #2 Satnding Rope Upright Row" - this is to be performed on cable machine, correct?

it sounds like some good suggestions; i'll give some of these a try and let you know how it goes. thanks again!


cdb - sounds like you're echoing what Truet suggested w/ rope pull..
Since upright row (even with wide grip) has always brought pain, will definately give this a go. thanks for your input


tons of upper body press movements will build your delts. rarely is there a need for a delt-specialization routine or even a given workout dedicated to shoulders.

in a well-balanced routine, delts are getting built up all the time.


Havent tried it myself but many ppl reported GREAT results on CT's Shoulder Overhaul Program



Phil - thanks for that awesome link.. and ofcourse, thanks CT for what looks like an awesome program..

lean-away lat raise looks like a killer